Before There Was English, French, Spanish, There Was . . . PIE!


CCSS NCSS-1 339 Words 3-Minute Listen

Long before there was English, German, Hindi, Spanish, French and the myriad of other languages that we speak today, there was Proto-Indo European or what linguists affectionately call PIE. Believed to have been spoken sometime between 4,500 and 3,700 B.C. by our ancestors in Europe and Asia, it is the most researched of all ancient languages simply, because it is believed to be the root of many of the modern ones.

Given that there is no written or verbal record of PIE, experts have spent years trying to reconstruct it by finding common words amongst languages like Latin, Greek and Sanskrit. While a few brave ones have attempted at writing a short parable in the ancient language, no one has ever attempted to speak it aloud, let alone record it, until now.

Earlier this week, University of Kentucky linguistics expert Dr. Andrew Byrd released the first recording of a parable of sheep and horses as it may have sounded in PIE. It was first penned in the ancient language in 1868 by German linguist Dr. August Schleicher as an attempt to recreate the vocabulary. Since then, many linguists have re-written it in their own version of PIE. The one that Dr. Byrd has attempted to pronounce is the rendition written by his mentor, UCLA linguist, Dr. H. Creig Melchart.

Of course, given that there is no definitive version of this language, whether this was how our ancestors communicated is just an educated guess. But since that is something we will never be able to confirm, we will just have to take the expert's word for it. However despite the popularity of his recording, Dr. Byrd says he will never attempt to make another one because he would first have to write something in PIE, which judging from the rather convoluted looking alphabets is not an easy task.

And in case you are wondering what Dr. Byrd is saying, here is the original parable that Dr. Schleicher translated in PIE.

English does a lot easier now doesn't it?


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  • lopsided carrotSunday, December 10, 2017 at 10:38 am
    i thought it was 3.14159
    • genieSaturday, April 2, 2016 at 5:26 pm
      great ancestory
      • EvanThursday, March 17, 2016 at 6:22 am
        pie can deal with math
        • Abbey Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 6:20 am
          Something i learned from the article was that PIE meant Proto Indo European
          • BobbyThursday, March 17, 2016 at 6:20 am
            It's actually cool to know that there as language that was before all other languages
            • CassidyThursday, March 17, 2016 at 6:19 am
              There is a language that many people are beginning to try and translate which is the language of PIE. However, many people have tried pretty hard to write a parable in this language but none have truly been able to succeed at this until one day when a man named Dr.Byrd. Although it was just an educated guess based on facts and inferences, many people believe that he may have been able to conjure a close estimate as to the translation and how to write in it.
              • Emma Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 6:15 am
                Many experts have attempted to figure out the language called PIE.
                • CyncereThursday, March 17, 2016 at 6:14 am
                  I think it is cool that people have tried to write the language of PIE but have never spoke it.
                  • TymirThursday, March 17, 2016 at 6:10 am
                    This talk about how that their was different language and that our ancestor use that language
                    • NylaThursday, March 17, 2016 at 6:04 am
                      I learned that before there were any other languages there was PIE and that it was around 4,500-3,700 B.C.